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Witness Seized in Alleged Trial Sabotage Plot

Times Staff Writer

A Canadian nanny whose testimony helped convict the adopted son of a millionaire tobacco executive on a sex charge involving a 3-year-old girl has been arrested as she allegedly tried to collect $200,000 not to show up at a retrial, the FBI said Thursday.

Isabel Anderson, who testified that she saw Luis Gillespie raping the child in his adoptive father’s Hancock Park mansion in June, 1985, was taken into custody in Seattle on Wednesday as she collected the money from someone she thought was sent by a defense attorney, authorities said.

The unidentified person was an FBI agent.

As it turned out, there will be no retrial. The U.S. attorney’s office, seeing its primary witness against Gillespie apparently discredited, filed for dismissal of the charges against him.

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“It would have made a retrial extremely difficult,” Assistant U.S. Atty. Julie Blackshaw said.

Arrested with Anderson, the FBI said, was Vancouver, Canada, resident Kelley Peter Wiebe, 29, who was accused of being Anderson’s lookout for the meeting.

Gillespie was convicted in Los Angeles federal court in 1987 of transporting his godchild from his native Ecuador for immoral purposes. He was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Last July, however, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal reversed the conviction, ruling that U.S. District Judge David Kenyon erred by allowing prejudicial and irrelevant testimony that the defendant and his adoptive father, David Gillespie, had a homosexual relationship.

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The appellate court ordered a new trial.

In the meantime, however, Gillespie served two years in prison, because he was not allowed to remain free on bail pending appeal.

According to the joint announcement by Steven L. Pomerantz and Lawrence G. Lawler, special agents in charge of the Seattle and Los Angeles FBI offices, respectively, Anderson initially demanded $500,000 not to testify at a retrial.

The FBI would say only that she made her offer to a “defense attorney” and that the amount “was later reduced” to $200,000. It was not made clear whether the lower amount was her suggestion or that of the agent.

Gillespie’s current attorney, Robert Perry, was not available to discuss the case.

At the time Anderson and her companion were arrested, the FBI said, Wiebe was carrying “a large bag to accommodate the monies.” Like Anderson, he was reportedly a Canadian citizen. He was charged with conspiracy.

Both were taken before a U.S. magistrate in Seattle and held pending further hearings.


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